Rafael Nadal has won a record 12th French Open title after beating Dominic Thiem in four sets in the final.
The first set was undoubtedly one of the best seen at a Grand Slam final, with both players playing phenomenal shots and enduring multiple 20-shot rallies in a 56-minute slog.
But Nadal was ultimately too strong for Thiem, eventually overcoming a slip-up in the second set to win 6-3, 5-7, 6-1, 6-1.
He becomes the first man or woman to win 12 titles at Roland Garros, surpassing the last of Margaret Court’s 11 titles some 46 years ago.
The anticipation for a second final in a row for these two players was that Nadal was the clear favourite. But Thiem was determined to show he could mix with the tennis elite, having already beaten world number one Novak Djokovic in an epic five-setter.
The first set was fast, furious and lengthy, as the players need 45 minutes for the first seven games.
It was at that moment that Nadal decided to take matters into his own hands, producing the kind of shots that you get from winning 11 titles on this court. The 33-year-old soon moved onto a level of his own, bouncing back from a surprise break to win the next four games and seal the first set 6-3.
The second set was much more straightforward, with Thiem serving impeccably with a rate of 84 per cent of his first serves landing in.
There was no break in serve as the Austrian took a 6-5 lead but, having dropped just one point on his serve in the entire set, Nadal made an unwanted hat-trick of unforced errors to serve up a double break point on a silver platter. Thiem gobbled it up to secure his first-ever set against Nadal in Paris and he was back in the game, somewhat deservedly.
But if anything, losing the set only seemed to inspire Nadal to reach a higher level – and he did just that, taking control of the third.
The Spaniard needed only a quarter of an hour to secure a double break in the third and on his way to wrapping up the set 6-1 in just 24 minutes, the second seed played the shot of the tournament with an astonishing volley at the net that span back a metre into the net on Thiem’s side.
Thiem provided some resistance in the fourth set, battling it out for 10 minutes on Nadal’s serve and twice missed a chance to break back. That proved pivotal as the 17-time Grand Slam champion veered off into the distance.
Armed with two championship points at 5-1 up, it was never going to be straightforward for Nadal but after Thiem’s forehand return went long, the Spaniard collapsed to the ground and broke into tears.
He has completed a dozen and will go down as the best player to ever grace these courts.
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